LOCAL OBSERVATIONS 2006 - March
Friday 31st March 2006
I decided to go back to Opoul to see what the pools situation is like during the day. I arrived and saw many species, I was looking for Triturus marmoratus again but only found the same one as last night. I saw many Natrix maura but no Natrix natrix, it seems that they prefer larger water holes. I stumbled across some Bufo bufo spinosus embryos that had just got out of the cord, and under a rock was an adult Discoglossus pictus:
I released the Pelobates cultripes and put it in some loose soil where it could dig itself a hole until sundown:
I had the chance now in daylight to take a habitat photo of this pool:
Thursday 30th March 2006
In the morning walking the dog I came across another Timon lepidus female:
I went on a drive at 20:30, night was falling and my destination was over 40 minutes away, I had to skip dinner but I was too motivated tonight, only thinking about one thing: Marbled newts
My destination is a natural marsh near the town of Opoul, rumored by University friend to be an amazing place for amphibians. I arrived after driving for 45 minutes, parked and the sound was phenomenal:
I observed many hundreds of Hyla meridionalis, also two Natrix maura, one of which was eating a Hyla. I looked for an hour with my lamp and still was without any Triturus marmoratus, my lamp was starting to fade until... there was one! I think this year is going to be the luckiest ever as you may have had the feeling reading through my reports. A female marbled Newt, I got my net and swooped and got her. With the light fading i decided to head home as it was now 11 o'clock. As I drove through the village I noticed a huge bufo sitting in the road as I drove by, I turned around and as I approached it, it seemed like a bufo bufo with the pattern of a Discoglossus pictus! Strange, as I got the camera ready and went in closer, to my amazement, it had vertical pupils, and so it was a Western spadefoot (Pelobates cultripes), my first ever:
Heading home I decided to stop off at one last place, the swimming pool 'la peiriere', as I was driving to there, I helped across the road a male rusty colored male Bufo bufo, arriving now I got close to the pool and saw 2 Rana ridibunda juveniles, one Bufo bufo male and a female Hyla meridionalis all in the water:
Thursday 23rd March 2006
I went on a drive in the late afternoon to survey the status of the frogs spawn in the temporary marshes and ponds around the valley, I found Hyla meridionalis eggs:
and what is either Pelodytes punctatus eggs of Pelobates eggs:
As the light faded into twilight I started to hear more and more calling from Hyla meridionalis, I went home and had dinner, and got my things together and went out, no it was pitch black, a lot of cloud cover also made it not too cold, I went to a series of small isolated natural ponds where on arrival it fell silent as the sound of my bike made the frogs aware of me. I put some new batteries into my head lamp and started to move forwards into the woods and then a few minutes later arrived at one of the 4 or so ponds, as I put my thing onto the ground to get my camera handy, I noticed a small (2 cm max.) Discoglossus pictus, and then there were more, I hope I didn't kill any... I have photos of them but they are not that good. as I approached the water I could see very shinny eyes next to a branch that must have fallen into the water months age, I wen into the water and close up to it and it was a Rana perezi:
With my lamp, I looked all around me, and saw another Rana perezi and then to my joy a Newt, I took the net and fished it out. It was a Palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus, formally Triturus), I thought at how lucky I was but then saw more and more, as I opened my vision up on the water, I soon realised that this was a very dense population, at least 300 specimens, again, I hope I didn't kill any...
When I was taking photos on a subject up close, that reduced the light on the rest of the pond and the cheeky Hyla were soon singing and then stopping as I turned round. I located only about 10 specimens, and here is one, brown colored:
I was about in the middle of the pond now and I took another step forward, always making sure to give a slight kick before putting the 79 kg of me onto the ground, this was an attempt to not kill and newts. But my next step forward was unexpectedly deep and I felt myself sinking into the thick yet slimy mud. I panicked to get my mobile phone out of my jean pocket, just did in time and then made my way, almost falling over to the side of the pond where I put my back pack and large lamp as well as my phone. I then carried on looking, I found shortly after that two large adult Discoglossus pictus and more Hyla.
Wednesday 15th March 2006
Amphibian night. I went out to survey the status of the breeding Bufo calamita and Hyla meridionalis, I found some toad eggs but no Hyla eggs. Otherwise I managed to film a Hyla male calling a female and a Bufo calamita calling a female as well as a poor b.calamita female being harassed by 3 males who all wanted to breed with her!:
The Bufo calamita eggs:
I called a work friend from Perpignan who drove up in the same evening and we searched for Hyla meridionalis for his scientific project at the Laboratory of Perpignan university on the parasites that live in them.
Mathieu Badets getting the gear ready to be prepared for the Hyla (net, tank, flash lamps...)
Thursday 9th March 2006
Driving out to have another look at where I found the pelodytes yesterday, I went to the swimming pool and I saw at the bottom of the shallow end a dead Hyla meridionalis, there was a darker frog with the same kind of body form as Hyla, I reached down for it and it swam away, I found it again 5 minutes later and when I put it onto the ground it turned out to be another Pelodytes punctatus. Leaving the area now, and investigating the Bufo calamita sound zones, find many specimens again and saving again many from the road. I then looked with a lot of success for Hyla meridionalis, I caught 8 to 10 males and 3 females, before coming across an adult Discoglossus pictus.
Then searching in the dark a breeding area of Hyla-Bufo calamita, I stumbled on a Pelodytes punctatus, again!
Wednesday 8th March 2006
Driving out to find some Hyla meridionalis and see whether the water snakes of the genus Natrix are out or not, the weather was overcast yet warm, around 16*C. Arriving at a water stream I heard a frog chirp that I recognised as Hyla, I moved in the direction and now I could hear 2 specimens located in a fenced off garden. I jumped over the fence and look for them, they had now stopped, I almost left but something urged me to look in a plant pot, and surly enough there was one there, a female:
I then looked for the snakes with no luck and decided to go to a place called 'La Periere', it's a camping-swimming pool resort, I asked for permission to search the grounds including the pond area for Hyla and I was granted the permission, I looked, found a large rat under some wood and then heard some more Hyla chirping coming from the swimming pool direction, I rushed over but didn't find it. I went around the pools edge and was luckily enough to have found my first ever Pelodytes Punctatus! He was blocked in the pool so I rescued him before taking some photos.
Extremely happy to have found that species, I thought the day couldn't get any better, I did the search at the pools edge with no luck and then returning to the building that is in the summer the 'bar', I looked at the small shallow water stream that was forming a moat around the building and found Rana perezi. I then moved closer to the building and overturned some roof tiles placed on a sand pile, and I couldn't believe my luck when I saw a pair of vertical pupils look back at me, I had found my first ever Alytes obstetricans, and this is the sub-species almogavarii, meaning that there is now a photo completing evermore my site:
What luck! Later in the evening I arranged an outing to look for the Hyla I so badly wanted to observe, I left the house and drove on my scooter through the back roads and towards 'nowhere' when I saw a pair of bufo in the road, as I dodged them, I almost fell off my bike, but didn't. I stopped ran back and with my light I saw that they were Natterjack toads, guess what... the first time I have seen this species too! Such luck!!!
As I went to take a photo of this specimen, the camera read: 'no card inserted'! So I had to drive a short way back home because I had forgotten the memory card when I was working on the previous images from the species above. I then went back to the same place, and followed my ears, I must have seen up to 200 Hyla specimens and 300 or more Bufo calamita, and the noise was so amazing, I even have a head ache as I write this text!
I came back home after a hour or so looking and observing these amazing amphibians.
I learnt this: Hyla meridionalis and Bufo calamita share the same breeding habitat and co-exist in harmony; The Hyla specimens chirp and sing even harder and louder when the moon light is not blocked.
Thursday 2nd March 2006
Walking the dog again, I returned to the bit of the river where I found the toad yesterday (see bellow) on my arrival, the herping just began by itself... I didn't have the time to put down my container before I saw another male toad:
Then I took some better images of the two specimens from the day before:
Then I discovered toad eggs:
And carrying on down the river some more, I found another 3 males:
And on my way back home I found another male! I took some toad eggs back home for my photo project to follow the life of tadpoles.
Wednesday 1st March 2006
Walking the dog again, I checked out the developed in the tadpole water hole, not much change, possibly due to the cold night temperature and lack of food. Walking right the way down the river back towards the village, I looked for more tadpoles with no luck, but towards the end, almost giving up and going back home, something told me to carry on, just a few more meters, I did so and I saw movement in the water, a wonderful male common toad was in moving along the bottom of the water, as I tried to get closer, balancing on stones out of the water, and then I saw more movement, that other movement was a water frog 'rana' I decided to grasp first the toad as they are much slower then the 'rana' species. I did so and took some photos. going back into the water, I slipped and got my shoes wet and this made it 10 times easier to find the frog and catch it as I didn't have to worry about getting wet! The frog ended up to be a Graf's hybrid frog, Rana kl. grafi. A hybrid frog this species is a cross of Rana ridibunda and Rana perezi.
As I didn't get many photos because of the light fading, I took the two species back home, where the Common toad decided it fancied me, and sang for me as he gripped onto my forearm.